We have 6 people in our family – including 4 crazy kids! And we manage to live on $650 a month. This is how we do it!
Groceries = $250/month
I am very careful with my meal planning. I buy in bulk, cook from scratch, and we do not buy pre-packaged or convenience foods. I do one week a month where I cook from the pantry, and we don’t get groceries at all. I stretch the meat in my recipes to make it go farther. I check store ads to I can price-match and get the best deal, especially on meat and produce. I also buy a lot of groceries at GFS, which emails me great coupons to add to the savings. If you take a look at my weekly menus page, you’ll see that we really spend under $200/month, but I included the extra $50 to account for the free stuff we get from WIC.
Utilities = $170/month
Our electric bill averages $60, natural gas (heat) is $60, and water is $50. I work hard to make our home energy efficient. I teach the children to be cautious in their use of utilities. (They have to do push-ups if they leave the room with the light on!) These are my tips for saving money on electricity and water. We have all of our utilities on budget-billing plans, so that we pay the same bill every month. It keeps us from having high bills in the winter! We do not currently have an air-conditioner, which also saves us money in the summer.
Insurance = $100/month
We have insurance through the military-supportive company USAA. They have great rates, and $100 gives us excellent coverage on both our van and our home.
Cell phones = $40/month
I have a prepaid plan through the company Red Pocket. With under $40/month, I get unlimited texting and calling, and more than enough data. My husband also has a prepaid phone, which he tops up once a year for $80 (averages out to $6.67/month). It’s not included in our monthly budget because it is so minimal and he only pays it once a year. Read all about how to save on cell phones here, and finding a plan that works for you.
Vehicle Fuel = $30/month
My husband doesn’t work, but he does currently attend seminary. We bought a home close enough to his school and our church so that we would walk, saving us a lot of money in gas. We walk every time we have the opportunity! We only own one vehicle, and we practice something called hypermiling when we drive it to save even further. When we do fill up, we use a website and app called Gas Buddy to find the cheapest gas in our area.
Internet = $40/month
I shopped around to find the lowest rate at the speeds we wanted. We watch all of our TV on the computer, as well as my using it for work, blogging, school, etc. $40 seems a reasonable price for the service we get!
Miscellaneous = $20/month
We do our best to be content with what we have. If we “need” something, we wait a little while to decide if it’s really a need, or if it’s something we can live without. Usually the things that end up in this category are new shoes for the kids (purchased on clearance for $2 or less) or printer ink or things like that.
So that is all of our expenses, and if you add them up you will see that they equal $650. We do actually make more than that, but not by much. I can’t say exactly how much, because it changes from month to month — but I would say on average about $700-800/month. The rest of our income goes to several areas: giving back to our church, supporting friends’ mission trips, our Compassion kids. We also save a little for our kids, retirement, vacations, and investing. And we use some for fun – eating out, going on date nights, field trips, and other fun stuff! But all of those things can be stopped or put on hold if our income ever were to drop or stop, and we could live on our bare minimum of $650 if we needed to.
I wanted to add one more thing – back when we had a mortgage and our house wasn’t paid in full, we still had extremely low expenses. Our budget was closer to $1100 instead of $650, but we still had bare minimum expenses in most areas so that we could save-save-SAVE! (At the time we were making about $4,000 a month and saving well over half of it.) That’s part of how we got to where we are, and in the position that we could pay cash for a house.
I have more upcoming posts on saving money, especially in these areas! Subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss any future updates (top right side of this page)!